Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
The morning starts with a good cup of coffee! For the last few years my schedule has been dominated by family life and my working hours have been irregular at best. I’m actually just now, slowly getting back to a more work-oriented schedule. Although I may not have been able to work as many hours as before, I never stop thinking about music, visual arts, films, it’s all connected and not a separate part in my life.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
For A Handful of Dust Is A Desert, which I feel is my most complete statement so far, the ideas mostly came to me from starting to work! I don’t wait for specific ideas to manifest but just start doing and usually something comes out of it. A piece could be done in an afternoon or it might take many years to find the right shape. It’s sometimes difficult to say when a piece is finished, but these days what’s important for me is the emotional impact the composition has. When it captures an emotion in such a way that I feel that I have nothing to add to it, I stop working on it. It doesn’t matter if it could be better technically, what matters is that it’s true to a feeling that I had making it. This feeling might change during making of it. Sometimes the emotion is captured during the mixing, sometimes arrangement, sometimes in the initial melody.
During the making of AHODIAD I noticed that the ideas and emotions circulated mostly around different notions of and experiences of love from a personal point of view. The concept wasn’t premeditated. When I had a certain amount of music completed and I was able to look back at it from some distance, it became clear to me what it was about. Then it was easier to put the album together even though the actual songs were musically quite different from each other.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
Creativity is about being open to what happens and trying to forget what you were doing and instead just follow what comes out of the work. If you’ve made up your mind about the results beforehand, you may not recognize when you stumble on something good! I don’t really feel a difference between a creative state of mind and any other state of mind to be honest.
How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
Improvisation is composition. There is no fundamental difference. A lot of my music is based on recorded improvisation that is then edited and further processed and arranged. For live shows I almost prefer writing new pieces to improvise on rather than try to recreate already released compositions. In my case that gets a bit tricky.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
Often certain sounds imbue melodies and rhythms and structures that almost seem built into them. I work with samplers a lot, often resampling my own recordings or existing records. The texture and timbre of the sound-blocks that I feed into the sampler greatly affects what I play with it – as does the character of the sampler itself in case I’m using vintage samplers. I always try to compose melodies using the final sounds because often the melody and the sound that the melody is played with are inseparable. In that sense, composing on pen and paper would be difficult to me as I depend a lot on the quality of the sound to affect the compositional process.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
In my teens I had to make a choice whether I would focus on and study music or visual arts. I chose visual arts as I felt at the time that the music I wanted to make was based on imagery and visual ideas. I felt that I might as well make those images rather than the music that evokes the images. After a while, I realised it wasn’t quite that straightforward and I had to start making music again. I felt I was missing an important channel of expression. I definitely see music as images, shapes and colours. Yet those images don’t empty the music out of its specialness, there’s always more in it.
I think it was Alfred Hitchcock who said that the ear is the most imaginative organ and I think he was onto something.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
These days it’s almost impossible to refrain from politics in some way as the political situation is so urgent in many countries. But I like to stay relatively subtle in my work when it comes to political messages. When we are talking instrumental electronic music, I think there’s only so much you can do with the actual sounds. You can evoke an emotion but how the listener reacts to that emotion is another thing.
I think I may be entering a dangerous zone here, but I’d definitely like to inspire some kind of change towards positivity with my art if possible. There may be dark moments in my music but I try to offer a glimpse of hope or joy to counter-balance that. I don’t want to leave the listener alone in the dark after the record is finished.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
I don’t really have a vision but I’m pretty sure music will mutate into other forms yet I feel that there will always be space for music just as it is.